Projects

Lithium Power (LPI) is a pure-play lithium company with three distinct project regions. One in South America’s brine region and two in Western Australia’s hard-rock, providing diversity in both geography and geology.

 

The company’s primary focus is on the development of Chile’s next sustainable high-grade lithium mine. The Project is located within the ‘Lithium Triangle’ in northern Chile, home to the largest and highest quality lithium brine deposits.

Maricunga, Chile

Location: Atacama region, Chile.

Ownership: 51.55% owned by LPI

Status: Definitive Feasibility Study (‘DFS’) for the Stage One released 1Q22

Resources: 1,905,000 t lithium carbonate equivalent, 4,950,000 t KCl

Highlights

  • A strong asset: The Maricunga project (‘the Project’) is a joint venture in which Lithium Power (‘LPI’) currently owns 51.6%. The properties are 100% owned by the JV company, Minera Salar Blanco (‘MSB’) and not subject to leasehold-related negotiations impacting other Chilean operators. The Project is located within the ‘Lithium Triangle’ in northern Chile, home to the largest and highest quality lithium brine deposits.
  • Cost competitive: The Project operating cost places Maricunga among the most efficient producers with an OPEX of US$3,718 per tonne not including credit from potassium chloride (KCl) byproduct.
  • Definitive Feasibility highlights: The Project’s updated Definitive Feasibility Study (‘DFS’) for the Stage One development completed by WorleyParsons and released in 1Q22 with a +/-11% operating and capital cost accuracy, confirms the Project supports a 15,200 tonnes per annum (t/a) production of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (‘LCE’) over a 20-year mine life with a project NPV of US$1.98B before tax.
  • Highest quality: The Project in South America shows high brine grades, high flow rate characteristics and high drainable porosity and permeability. Test work has produced battery grade Li2CO3 samples, meeting commercial high quality specifications, achieving a 99.5% purity (99.3% battery grade). The Project is the most advanced pre-production project in South America.
  • Strong progress on key strategic milestones: The project is being developed with a low-risk strategy with significant expansion potential. Project Stage One Resource estimate was increased by 90% to 1.9m tonnes in September 2021 from the initial maiden resource estimate. The update DFS, released in 1Q22, shows significant uplift from met initial DFS released in 1Q19. Environmental Approval was received from the Chilean authorities in February 2020. MSB has entered into a non-binding MOU with Mitsui and is currently considering other options for project financing and other strategic relationships.
  • Excellent infrastructure:
    • Project accommodation camp and offices, laboratory, parking, workshops, general warehousing, weighing station and local access roads.
    • Reagent preparation building (includes solvent extraction reagent warehouse, hydrochloric acid reception, caustic soda preparation), storage and preparation of soda ash.
    • Power and water supplies.
    • Fuel plant and station.
    • Storage and distribution of sulfuric acid and lime plant.
    • Compressors room, boiler room, water conditioning plant.
    • Lithium Carbonate Plant.
  • Robust industry outlook: Lithium carbonate demand, driven by its use in automobile applications, is projected to grow 18.8%pa until 2036. Development projects to meet future demand growth are limited and new supply coming on stream is slow due to permitting and construction constraints, resulting in expectations of strong forward pricing. LPI plans to capitalise on the lithium supply imbalance by fast-tracking Maricunga to production by 2025 with resources to exceed our 20-year mine life and forecasted pricing of LCE.
  • Solid team: LPI and MSB have highly experienced and proven board, management and technical teams in mining, lithium exploration and strategic transactions who have been involved in building mega mining companies. Excellent local and Indigenous relationships and engagement provide a very stable development path for Mariucunga.
  • Maricunga Mineral Resource Estimate: The updated resource estimate of 1,905,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) represents close to double the initial resource of 1,020,000 tonnes of LCE in the equivalent area (Stage One) in the 2019 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS). A resource equivalent to 4.95Mt of KCl was also defined. The resource estimate was prepared in accordance with JORC and NI 43-101 international reporting standards. Exploration target on the Stage Two expansion area has the potential of between 1Mt–2.5Mt of new resources.
  • Outstanding economics: A production forecast of 15,200 t/a LCE over 20 years with development costs of US$626M and payback after two years based on 2-year ramp-up.

Overview

The Maricunga project lies adjacent to the Chile-Argentina Highway 31,170km northeast of Copiapo and 25km from the port of Caldera. A 23kV power line crosses the property and is connected to Chile’s 220kV power grid. It is a high-quality resource with high brine grades, high flow characteristics and high drainable porosity and permeability. The first brine sample produced in 2018, using Maricunga’s Pilot Evaporating Brine Pond, returned an indicated purity of 99.4%.

Since then, the Company has further advanced improvements to its production process design, yielding efficiency increases. The purity level of the Lithium Carbonate product is expected to be significantly higher compared to original samples produced in 2018. Such an outcome would allow the Company to reach a wider spectrum of customers with different quality requirements.

The Company has made important efforts to become the first Zero Emission lithium brine producer. That effort includes using electricity only produced by solar generators through long-term power purchase agreements; minimising water consumption in the production process design (self-producing through condensation recovery of more than 30 per cent of the water used); and strict protocols to ensure any negative environmental impact on the area provides an opportunity to set a higher standard for the whole industry.

Additionally, social aspects have been important to the Maricunga project, receiving open and ongoing support from both indigenous and civilian communities. These initiatives have been widely recognised by the Chilean authorities.

Project status

During Q2 2022, LPI announced that the Company had entered into definitive binding agreements to consolidate 100% ownership of the Maricunga Lithium Brine project in Chile (“Maricunga” or the “Project”) via two all-scrip mergers with its joint venture partners Minera Salar Blanco SpA (“MSB SpA”) and Bearing Lithium Corp (BRZ:TSXV) (“Bearing”) (together the “JV Partners”) (individually the “Transaction” or together the “Transactions”). The Company currently owns a 51.55% interest in Maricunga, with JV Partners MSB SpA holding 31.31% and Bearing holding 17.14%.

The Transactions result in LPI current shareholders increasing their effective ownership in Maricunga from 51.55% to ~57.9% which is ~12% on a relative basis. This has been achieved by LPI undertaking the Transactions at a 17.1% discount to the look-through value of Maricunga in LPI based on the 1-month volume weighted average price of LPI at the time the transaction was announced. As a result of the Transactions, proforma LPI will benefit from enhanced scale and control of Maricunga, which will significantly increase LPI’s attributable production to 15.2ktpa of battery grade lithium carbonate from Maricunga based on the 2022 DFS. LPI also believes that consolidating 100% ownership under LPI provides the optimal structure to oversee the rapid development of the Project by:

  • streamlining decision making;
  • simplifying and de-risking the funding pathway for Maricunga;
  • enhancing the Company’s ability to source capital from a wider range of providers; and
  • providing a clearer and more understandable investment vehicle.

The consolidation of ownership will be undertaken via two separate transactions:

  • MSB SpA will contribute its 31.31% interest in Maricunga to Delaware company, Salar Blanco, LLC (“SBD”) (which will be a wholly owned subsidiary of MSB SpA). LPI will consolidate ownership of SBD’s interest in the project via a Delaware merger with SBD (“SBD Transaction”).
  • The transaction with Bearing for its 17.14% interest will be completed by way of a Canadian Plan of Arrangement (“Bearing Transaction”).

Based on the number of ordinary shares LPI may issue under the transactions, the proforma ownership of LPI will comprise ~57.9% LPI current holders, ~26.7% MSB SpA and ~15.5% Bearing securityholders (including option and warrant holders). The transactions will, following completion, result in LPI owning 100% of the project and position the Company to aggressively pursue the rapid development of Maricunga. The transactions, together with LPI’s previously announced demerger of its WA lithium exploration assets (“WA Demerger”), will transform LPI into a focused developer of the wholly owned Maricunga Project.